A second positive test result for COVID-19 in Ketchikan was announced Thursday afternoon during a state press conference with Gov, Mike Dunleavy and Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink.
The person with the second result was identified as the “spouse of the individual who had the first positive test result in Ketchikan,” according to an announcement from the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center issued early Thursday afternoon.
The first positive result involved Ketchikan Gateway Borough Attorney Glenn Brown, who, after the announcement of Ketchikan’s first positive result on Tuesday, had identified himself in a public social media post as the person involved.
Brown and his spouse had returned to Ketchikan on March 10 after a short trip to Oregon, according to information from the Ketchikan EOC.
The couple had traveled to Seattle on March 6, and stayed in the Maple Valley, Washington, area, according to an email from Brown to the Ketchikan EOC.
On March 7, they drove to coastal Oregon and stayed in and around the area of Yachats, Oregon, for two days, according to the email.
They drove back to Seattle on March 9. Their flight back to Ketchikan overheaded the First City and continued on to Juneau because of weather, according to the email.
They returned from Ketchikan on the first flight from Juneau on March 10.
According to the Ketchikan EOC, Brown’s spouse, “upon experiencing symptoms of illness, … self-isolated and sought testing through a Ketchikan clinic.”
Ketchikan Public Health officials are starting a “contact investigation,” and will reach out to anyone who might have come in contact with the second person, according to the announcement. Public Health will notify and isolate additional people as is appropriate.
“People who are considered at having been at risk of exposure will be isolated and monitored for 14 days,” wrote Kacie Paxton, who serves as the Ketchikan EOC public information officer, in a separate email to the Daily News.
The initial Ketchikan EOC announcement stated that “We want to reassure the public that we are working closely with Ketchikan Public Health to identify anyone who may be at risk for having contact with this individual. We will keep the public informed of any information that is needed for community health and safety.”
Thursday’s announcement of a second confirmed case in Ketchikan came during a state briefing in Anchorage that included information about two more confirmed cases within Alaska — two people in Fairbanks who are in their 20s and 30s and had not traveled outside of the state during the past two weeks, according to Zink, as quoted by the Anchorage Daily News.
As of Thursday afternoon’s announcement, Alaska had 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19. In addition to the two cases in Ketchikan, five have been in Fairbanks, four in Anchorage and one in Seward.
The governor has added two new mandates in response to the coronavirus. One of the mandates halts or postpones all non-urgent and elective medical procedures for three months. The other postpones all elective oral health procedures for one month.
Local developments related to the coronavirus circumstances have been evolving with some rapidity in recent days.
Thursday afternoon’s initial announcement from the Ketchikan EOC contained several updates, including the newly scheduled reopening date of the White Cliff building.
White Cliff building closure
The White Cliff building will remain closed until April 1, according to the press release. The building, located at 1900 First Ave., houses the administrative offices of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough — including the office of Borough Attorney Glenn Brown, the first person confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Ketchikan — as well as the Borough Assembly chambers, Ketchikan’s Legislative Information Office, the offices of the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, and of U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan.
Saxman Tribal Office closure
The Saxman Tribal Office will be closed to the general public until further notice, according to Thursday’s press release. The tribe will continue to provide client services. Tribal citizens may call the offices at 907-247-2507 to request assistance.
Personal protective equipment supply
PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center workers are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance regarding usage of personal protective equipment, the press release says.
Personal protective equipment includes face masks, gloves, gowns, aprons, goggles, respirators and other clothes or equipment used to protect the wearer from harm or infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The press release states that the EOC has ordered additional PPE “through regular channels” and that more PPE is available in reserve through Medical Reserve Corps supplies.
Further, according to the press release, the State of Alaska’s EOC is shipping an order of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile to Ketchikan.
Recognizing the “unique challenges” facing Ketchikan’s homeless population and homeless service providers, the EOC has been in contact with First City Homeless Services, Women In Safe Homes, Park Avenue Temporary Home and The Salvation Army to provide 24-hour services, according to the press release.
Portable toilets with hand-washing stations are being contracted to provide hygienic restrooms, to be serviced daily, according to the release. Five locations have been identified for the portable toilets: Thomas Basin, next to The Salvation Army; the Creek Street bridge; Berth 3; the parking lot next to the Ketchikan Police Station; and the Plaza mall bus stop.
Additional stations are available to be placed should the need arise, the press release states.
The EOC is working with FCHS, WISH, PATH and The Salvation Army on a continuity of operations plan to address staff shortages due to COVID-19.
The Borough Transit Department is asking that riders who are sick or who have sick family members refrain from riding The Bus.
The borough Parks and Recreation Department’s online yoga sessions will continue to be held at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The full text of the EOC press release can be found at the bottom of the borough’s coronavirus resource page at kgbak.us/913/COVID-19-Response.
Daily News staff writers Scott Bowlen and Sam Stockbridge contributed to this story.